After War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Peace Sees Winners and Losers Swap Places

Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side by side when both countries were part of the Soviet Union, but century-old ethnic enmity reignited when communism collapsed. Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly ethnic Armenian, ended up as part of Azerbaijan. Armenia won a war over the territory in the early 1990s that killed some 20,000 people and displaced a million, mostly Azerbaijanis.

Azerbaijanis were expelled not only from Nagorno-Karabakh itself but also from seven surrounding districts, including Kelbajar, that had been mostly inhabited by Azerbaijanis. The entire region became the internationally unrecognized, ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijan’s desire to return its citizens who had been displaced from their homes became a driving force in its politics.

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